Living in Florida, we’ve been spoiled for cruises.
From last minute cruise deals to Florida-resident rates on Disney, over the years we’ve taken advantage of living less than two hours from the port. Because of this, the typical cruise destinations (Bahamas and Caribbean) keep us on the ship more often when in port. But this was not the case last October…
Following last week’s post about the Marvel Day at Sea, I’d like to share some memories from the ports we visited. This was a Canadian cruise, hitting three ports on the east coast of Canada: Charlottetown in Prince Edward Island, followed by Sydney and Halifax in Nova Scotia. Nobody in our family had been to this part of the country before, so we were very excited about the itinerary.
This port town was a beautiful first stop, and while the morning was grey, the weather warmed up nicely and we have a wonderful day on the island. Prince Edward Island is famous as the location that inspired Anne of Green Gables (plus a filming location for the TV series), and my mom loves those books so she was the most excited of all of us.
We made our way off the ship and through town, admiring the stunning autumn colors and enjoying the brisk weather. Our rental car company was located further out, but they sent a driver to pick us up and soon we were loaded up and heading north to the Green Gables Heritage Place.
Admission was free for 2017 (part of Canada’s celebration of 150 years of national parks) and the landscape was beautiful. While I sat on a chair in the barn holding Kasper, who had fallen asleep in the car, the rest of the family explored the grounds. My wife took her time in the farm house, exploring every elegant detail, while Henrik enjoyed a walk through the forest with his grandparents.
We spent the rest of our day enjoying a leisurely drive through the countryside, discussing the possibility of another, longer visit to the island. This is always the challenge when a cruise takes you to beautiful places: half a day is never enough. Soon we were back onboard and off to our next stop…
Sydney, Nova Scotia
Not to be confused with the more famous harbor, Sydney, Nova Scotia was a quiet second stop on this cruise. The boys took extra time in the morning, but we didn’t have anything special planned and enjoyed a quiet morning onboard.
My folks got off first, explored the long boardwalk along the harbor, and encouraged us to get the boys out for some fresh air. Sydney is home to some old buildings and historical museums, but for toddlers, the huge wooden boardwalk along the water was the main attraction.
We were greeted, of course, by the huge violin, and stopped just down the walk for a quick lunch. Eating fresh fish and chips beside the water was a special moment, topped only by the playground further down the walk.
Don’t let Henrik’s grumpy face fool you! Both boys had a blast on the simple playground, breathing in the seaside air and listening to the sounds of the water. The walk back to the ship remains one of my favorite family memories, holding Henrik’s hand as he balanced on the wall, alternating between the wall and the stroller every time we passed a trash can. It was our little game, all we needed to get back to the ship and on to our final port…
Halifax, Nova Scotia
After a night of rough seas, we landed in Halifax, our third and final port before a full day on the boat back to New York. This was the biggest city on our itinerary, and we had reserved a rental car for the day. We didn’t have any specific plans, but after the nice drive around Prince Edward Island, it was safe to assume we’d enjoy exploring the landscape at our own pace.
We opted for renting a car instead of booking a shore excursion through the cruise only because our boys were so young. Kasper was barely 14 months, and we needed the flexibility to stop anytime. This proved necessary on our way out of Halifax as he failed to fall asleep in the car.
As soon as we found a place to pull off the road, he was snoozing on Poppop’s shoulder while Henrik explored the rocks next to a beautiful lake. Had we been on a motorcoach full of tourists, not only would they all be tired of hearing Kasper scream, we never would have experienced this peaceful spot:
Thanks to a suggestion from one of the concierge on the ship, we found our way to Peggy’s Cove, a tiny fishing community at the mouth of St. Margaret’s Bay. If you’ve ever wondered where the header image for this blog came from, this is it. With the lighthouse standing atop smooth, weather-worn rock and huge waves crashing the shore, filling the air with spray and sound, I was taken by nature’s powerful show of force and the human resilience to stand in the face of unwelcoming environments.
Peggy’s Cove is a popular destination, so the point is filled with cars and buses full of people, but we were outside the summer tourist season so the weather was bitter cold. Most people were stepping out for a quick photo and heading to the relative warmth of the gift shop, but I could have spent all day wandering up and down the street, photographing the houses and boats.
It was a breathtaking sight, and I hope we can visit the Halifax area again when the boys are older. My dad was tempted to drive further along the coast, taking the long way back to town, but after three days ashore Henrik and Kasper were ready to get back to the comfort of our stateroom, so we said farewell to Peggy’s Cove and so long to the Canadian coast.
The rest of our trip was a challenge, two nights and one day with some of the roughest seas we’ve experienced, but that’s finally fading from memory. Our time in each port was a perfect taste of Canada, and looking through these photos I am reminded of the simple beauty of shared experience.
For me, that’s what family travel is all about.